JUST IN: Ancient Super-Eruptions in the Yellowstone Caldara Found to be ‘Significantly Larger’ Than Expected

New research published today in the journal Geological Society of America, has discovered the 12 recorded mega-eruptions of the Yellowstone super-volcano or (caldera) located in the north-central US states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming near the U.S./Canadian border – have been found to be were ‘significantly larger’ than research has previously suggested.

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Dr Tom Knott, Professor Mike Branney and Dr Marc Reichow, from the University of Leicester’s Department of Geology’s Volcanology Group, conducted the research with a team of international collaborators from the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and Idaho State University.

Using a multi-technique approach, including whole-rock and mineral chemistries, palaeomagnetic data and radio-isotopic dates – the team has been able to ‘fingerprint’ individual eruption deposits and correlate these over vast regions covering over 620 sq. miles (1000 km2).

magma in cubic miles

In establishing widespread correlations, the team drastically reduced the number of eruptions previously thought to have originated from the central Snake River Plain by more than half.

The researchers have reported that one of the super-eruptions from the Yellowstone caldera,  defined as the Castleford Crossing eruption, occurred about 8.1 million years ago and estimated the eruption volume to have exceeded 456 cubic miles (1,900 km3). This would equate to approximately 501,926,899,480,000 gallons of magma

Ancient super-eruptions in Yellowstone Hotspot track 'significantly larger' than expected

This is just one of 12 giant eruptions reported from the area by the Leicester team, who show that intense hotspot magmatism caused major crustal subsidence, forming the 100 km-wide Snake River Basin. The team also demonstrates that these eruptions were in fact significantly larger than previously thought and may rival those better known at Yellowstone.

Dr Knott said: “While it is well-know that Yellowstone has erupted catastrophically in recent times perhaps less widely appreciated is that these were just the latest in a protracted history of numerous catastrophic super-eruptions that have burned a track along the Snake River eastwards from Oregon to Yellowstone from 16 Ma to present.

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“The size and magnitude of this newly defined eruption is as large, if not larger, than better known eruptions at Yellowstone, and it is just the first in an emerging record of newly discovered super-eruptions during a period of intense magmatic activity between 8 and 12 million years ago.”

Several former University of Leicester undergraduates, including Mark Baldwin, Stuart Hatter, Liam McDonnell, Fabian Wadsworth and Luke Wooldridge, helped with the US fieldwork. They also enjoyed the opportunity of gaining experience through interacting with the international scientists, such as palaeomagnetists David Finn and Rob Coe of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

 

Warming Ocean Water Undercuts Antarctic Ice Shelves

“Upside-down rivers” of warm ocean water threaten the stability of floating ice shelves in Antarctica, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center published today in Nature Geoscience. The study highlights how parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet may be weakening due to contact with warm ocean water.

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“We found that warm ocean water is carving these ‘upside-down rivers,’ or basal channels, into the undersides of ice shelves all around the Antarctic continent. In at least some cases these channels weaken the ice shelves, making them more vulnerable to disintegration,” said Karen Alley, a Ph.D. student in CU-Boulder’s Department of Geological Sciences and lead author of an analysis published today in Nature Geoscience.

Ice shelves are thick floating plates of ice that have flowed off the Antarctic continent and spread out onto the ocean. As ice shelves flow out to sea, they push against islands, peninsulas, and bedrock bumps known as “pinning points.” Contact with these features slows the flow of grounded ice off the continent. While ice shelves take thousands of years to grow, previous work has shown that they can disintegrate in a matter of weeks. If more ice shelves disintegrate in the future, loss of contact with pinning points will allow ice to flow more rapidly into the ocean, increasing the rate of sea level rise.

“Ice shelves are really vulnerable parts of the ice sheet, because climate change hits them from above and below,” said NSIDC scientist and study co-author Ted Scambos. “They are really important in braking the ice flow to the ocean.”
The features form as buoyant plumes of warm and fresh water rise and flow along the underside of an ice shelf, carving channels much like upside-down rivers. The channels can be tens of miles long, and up to 800 feet “deep.”

When a channel is carved into the base of an ice shelf, the top of the ice shelf sags, leaving a visible depression, or “wrinkle”, in the relatively smooth ice surface. Alley and her colleagues mapped the locations of these wrinkles all around the Antarctic continent using satellite imagery, as well as radar data that images the channels through the ice, mapping the shape of the ice-ocean boundary.

The team also used satellite laser altimetry, which measures the height of an ice shelf surface with high accuracy, to document how quickly some of the channels were growing. The data show that growing channels on the rapidly melting Getz Ice Shelf in West Antarctica can bore into the ice shelf base at rates of approximately 10 meters (33 feet) each year.

The mapping shows that basal channels have a tendency to form along the edges of islands and peninsulas, which are already weak areas on ice shelves. The team observed two locations where ice shelves are fracturing along basal channels, clear evidence that basal channel presence can weaken ice shelves to the point of breaking in vulnerable areas.

Ice shelves are thick floating plates of ice that have flowed off the continent and out onto the ocean. As ice shelves flow out to sea, they push against islands, peninsulas, and bedrock bumps known as “pinning points”. Contact with these features slows the ice flowing off the continent. If ice shelves disintegrate in the future, loss of contact with pinning points will allow ice to flow more rapidly into the ocean, increasing rates of sea level rise.

While no ice shelves have completely disintegrated due to carving by basal channels, the study points to the need for more observation and study of the features, said co-author… “It’s feasible that increasing ocean temperatures around Antarctica could continue to erode ice shelves from below.”

Faults Control The Amount Of Water Flowing Into The Earth During Continental Breakup

New light has been shed on the processes by which ocean water enters the solid Earth during continental breakup.

tectonic plates

Research led by geoscientists at the University of Southampton, and published in Nature Geoscience this week, is the first to show a direct link on geological timescales between fault activity and the amount of water entering the Earth’s mantle along faults.

When water and carbon is transferred from the ocean to the mantle it reacts with a dry rock called peridotite, which makes up most of the mantle beneath the crust, to form serpentinite.

Dr Gaye Bayrakci, Research Fellow in Geophysics, and Professor Tim Minshull, from Ocean and Earth Science, with colleagues at the University of Southampton and six other institutions, measured the amount of water that had entered the Earth by using sound waves to map the distribution of serpentinite.

The sound waves travel through the crust and mantle and can be detected by sensitive instruments placed on the ocean floor. The time taken for the signals to travel from an acoustic seismic source to the seafloor instruments reveals how fast sound travels in the rocks, and the amount of serpentinite present can be determined from this speed.

The four-month experiment, which involved two research ships (the R/V Marcus Langseth and the F/S Poseidon), mapped an 80 by 20 km area of seafloor west of Spain called the Deep Galicia Margin where the fault structures were formed when North America broke away from Europe about 120 million years ago.

The results showed that the amount of serpentinite formed at the bottom of each fault was directly proportional to the displacement on that fault, which in turn is closely related to the duration of fault activity.

Dr Bayracki said: “One of the aims of our survey was to explore the relationship between the faults, which we knew already were there, and the presence of serpentinite, which we also knew was there but knew little about its distribution. The link between fault activity and formation of serpentinite was something we might have hoped for but did not really expect to see so clearly.

“This implies that seawater reaches the mantle only when the faults are active and that brittle processes in the crust may ultimately control the global amount of seawater entering the solid Earth.”

In other tectonic settings where serpentinite is present such as mid ocean ridges and subduction zones, the focused flow of seawater along faults provides a setting for diverse hydrothermal ecosystems where life-forms live off the chemicals stripped out of the rocks by the water as it flows into and then out of the Earth’s mantle.

The researchers were able to estimate the average rate at which seawater entered the mantle through the faults at the Deep Galicia Margin and discovered that rate was comparable to those estimated for water circulation in hot rock at mid-ocean ridges, where such life-forms are more common. These results suggest that in continental rifting environment there may have been hydrothermal systems, which are known to support diverse ecosystems.

Co-Author and Professor of Geology at the University of Birmingham Tim Reston commented: “Understanding the transport of water during deformation has broad implications, ranging from hydrothermal systems to earthquake mechanics. The new results suggest a more direct link between faulting and water movements than we previously suspected.”

New Confirmation Galactic Cosmic Rays Have Increased Intensity

Further confirmation advocating my research related to external sources outside our solar system is synchronous to our interplanetary cycles. The Sun-Earth connection, analogous to its 11, 22 year cycle reacts in congruous with larger galactic cycles of 500, 1,000, 5,000, 44,000, 100,000 (Centrennium) and beyond into (Megaannus) 1,000,000 year cycles.

plate margins

Only the most recent research has been able to identify such events as a result of almost magical new hardware of satellites, telescopes, spacecraft, and of course the software that goes with it. You might remember an article I wrote almost 2 years ago, as I reported to you what my sources directly connected to international space agencies, had told to me. It went something like this: “New information is coming in so fast, and is challenging our known formulas, templates, equations etc, we had to shut it down (figuratively) and begin our unsettling task of creating a new paradigm.”

As our brilliant, yet mostly isolated scientific disciplines, have begun to slowly unwind data that reaches memory sizes beyond Terabytes, beyond Petabytes, beyond Exabytes, now beyond Zettabytes, and currently is filling Yottabytes. As the slow untangling of new insights unfold, we can now see a direct connection to cyclical patterns far beyond our solar system borders and into our home galaxy Milky Way.

Memory Scale: 1 yottabyte = 1024 zettabytes = 1048576 exabytes = 1073741824 petabytes = 1099511627776 terabytes = 1125899906842624 gigabytes.

New information collected from neutron monitor measurements from the University of Oulu Cosmic Ray Station intensification of cosmic rays is making itself felt not only over the poles, but also over lower latitudes where Earth’s magnetic field provides a greater degree of protection against deep space radiation.
Earth’s magnetic field is currently weakening more rapidly. Data from the SWARM satellites have shown the field is starting to weaken faster than in the past. Previously, researchers estimated the field was weakening about 5 percent per century, but the new data revealed the field is actually weakening at 5 percent per decade, or 10 times faster than thought.

New Equation:
Increase Charged Particles Decreased Magnetic Field → Increase Outer Core Convection → Increase of Mantle Plumes → Increase in Earthquake and Volcanoes → Cools Mantle and Outer Core → Return of Outer Core Convection (Mitch Battros – July 2012)
In a recent study using neutron monitor measurements from the University of Oulu Cosmic Ray Station, show an accelerated amount of cosmic rays are now hitting lower latitudes likely due to a weakened magnetic field. This is cause for alert as radiation measurements have increased which could have a long-lasting effect on airline ceilings.

More on this research coming this week…………….

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Activity On Seafloor Linked To Icy Ebb And Flow On Surface

The last million years of Earth’s history has been dominated by the cyclic advance and retreat of ice sheets over large swaths of North America, with ice ages occurring every 40,000 years or so.

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While conventional wisdom says that this icy ebb and flow is an interaction between the water and atmosphere, the cause of the rapid transition between alternating cold glacial and warmer interglacial periods has been a mystery.

Until now. An article appearing in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science sheds new light on the role that the Earth itself may play in this climatological ballet.

UConn marine scientist David Lund and his colleagues studied hydrothermal activity along the mid-ocean ridge system – the longest mountain range in the world, which extends some 37,000 miles along the ocean floor – and found a link between pressure and temperature changes.

Their research suggests that the release of hot molten rock, or magma, from beneath the Earth’s crust in response to changes in sea level plays a significant role in the Earth’s climate by causing oceans to alternately warm and cool. This change in temperature is attributed to the release of heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the deep ocean.

During cold glacial intervals, ice sheets reached as far south as Long Island and Indiana, while during warm periods, the ice rapidly retreated to Greenland.

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There is evidence that when ice sheets grow, sea level lowers and significant pressure is taken off the ocean ridges. But, as the pressure lessens, the mantle begins melting, which, in turn, warms the water and causes the ice to begin melting. Then, as the ice melts, sea levels rise, causing pressure on the mountain ranges to increase and activity within the mountain ranges to slow.

Think of the effect that applying pressure to a wound has in slowing the flow of bleeding.

The release of molten rock through volcanic vents or fissures is driven by seafloor spreading and decompression melting of the upper mantle, the partially molten layer just beneath the earth’s crust.

Well documented sedimentary records from the East Pacific Rise (EPR) – a mid-ocean ridge extending roughly from Antarctica to the Gulf of California – show evidence of increased hydrothermal activity at the ends of the last two glacial eras.

Researchers also examined core samples from the ocean floor mountain ridges and determined concentrations of major and trace elements.

The results establish the timing of hydrothermal anomalies. Says Lund, “Our results support the hypothesis that enhanced ridge magmatism [the release of molten rock through volcanic vents or fissures], hydrothermal output, and perhaps mantle CO2 flux act to reduce the size of ice sheets.”

The Causes of Heating and Cooling of Earth’s Core and Climate Change

Ongoing studies supported by the NSF (National Science Foundation) indicate a connection between submarine troughs (rifts), Earth’s mantle, and Earth’s outer core. Furthermore, new research indicates the shifting of magnetic flux via Earth’s magnetic field, has a direct and symbiotic relationship to Earth’s outer core, mantle, lithosphere, and crust.

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As a living entity, Earth fights for its survival. If internal or external events begin to throw Earth out of balance i.e. orbital, tilt, or magnetic alignment – it begins to correct itself. When oceanic tectonic subductions occur, it cools the mantle and outer core. To balance this shift in temperatures, the Earth’s core increases heat and as a result releases what is known as “mantle plumes”. These plumes filled with super-heated liquid rock float up to the ocean bottom surface.

This action both cools the outer core and heats the oceans. As a result of heated oceans, we get tropical storms and various forms of extreme weather. When troughs, subduction zones, and rifts shift, as a result of convection, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes occur.

What makes this all work is the Earth’s magnetic field. Right now the magnetic field is weakening significantly. This will continue until it reaches zero point, at which time there will be a full magnetic reversal. Until this time, we will witness magnetic north bouncing in the northern hemisphere. Closer to the moments of a full reversal, we will see magnetic north drop down to/then below the equator.

As a result of a weakened magnetic field, larger amounts of radiation via charged particles such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, gamma rays, and galactic cosmic rays – are more abundantly reaching Earth’s atmosphere and having a heightened reaction with Earth’s core layers. This is what causes looped reaction. Radiation heats the core layers, the outer core reacts by producing ‘mantle plumes’, which causes crustal fracturing, which then causes earthquakes, volcanoes, heated oceans – all of which cools the outer core.

This seemingly repeating loop will continue until the Earth will once again find its balance. Until then, we can expect naturally occurring earth changing events which will produce the loss of mass in some parts of the world, and emergence of mass in other parts. Maybe this is the time to change the things we can (attitude, environment, community, self, surroundings), one would be a fool not to apply themselves within their means – but then there is the time to loosen up a bit, know what is happening is just part of a process.

Just as the Earth, we humans can just keep on trucking, and maybe, just maybe, some will simply ‘enjoy-the-ride’.